LDS Primary 2014 Scripture Cards

I had a great time making these today, reading through the carefully and prayerfully chosen words of our Primary leaders worldwide.  They are incredibly beautiful, simple, and true.

These are made to be printed into 4X6 cards.  I print mine, laminate them, punch a hole in the center top of them, and hang them on a painted block that sits on my piano.  We used them throughout the month, sometimes during scripture study, sometimes during FHE.  I've also seen people do the same, except punch the hole in the corner and hang them from a key ring.  Oh, also, I put them back to back, so January on one side, February on the other, laminated together - then I just flip it at the end of the month and only have 6 cards to keep track of.

We did a version of this for 2013, and gave them as gifts to my husbands' side of the family, who does a Sunday-appropriate activity gift exchange for Christmas (a super fun and much-loved idea my sister in law came up with!).

I hope you love 'em!


Ben's 7th Birthday - Ninja style!

Yesterday we celebrated Ben's 7th Birthday

So, for starters, let me explain how we do birthdays - 

Every year each kid gets a special birthday, and they get to be kings and queen for a day, basically.  They get to choose meals, activities, treat, and get presents.  But there are a few special years when they get to have a friend birthday party - at 7, 11, 15 and 17.  We picked years that aren't outwardly special or recognized in other ways.  (for instance, our kids are baptized and age 8, 10 is double digits, 12 is becoming a Young Woman or Young Man, 14 is attending boy/girl dances, 16 is going on group dates, etc...)

So, this year was extra-special for Ben - his first friend party ever!

Also, no surprise, but this kid picked a NINJA theme.  So fun!

These are the invitations I made on picmonkey, that Ben handed out to a few fun friends.

We started the party with the kids all getting a ninja headband (I tore some pieces of red fabric in lengths for all the guests, and Ben's golden ninja headband I made ahead of time).  We looked up their ninja names (see this pin here) and wrote them on the headbands.  Then they were all set for ninja training!  Ben played "Sensei Says" - he was the leader and taught them all his very awesomest ninja moves.  They also played "Follow the Sensei" and "Sensei May I."  (self explanatory, right?)

After that they used the ninja skills they'd all practice to attack a bunch of  red and golden balloon we strung up that had ninja masks taped to them.  Fun stuff!  They loved it, and those balloons didn't last too long!
Then they used their ninja skills in hand to pinata combat.  After many turns through the line, Ben finally cracked through that pinata, and  candy came pouring down.  They stuffed their candy into little cellophane bags with ninja eyes drawn on them.  Then they hung out for awhile comparing and sorting and trading their candy, of course!

They ran and played for awhile and then we did cupcake and presents.  I totally didn't take many pictures of the whole thing, but I hope you can see details here and there.  (plus I left out all the pictures with friends in it - you know, internet stuff. )

Here's the golden ninj-apple juice the kids drank.  Cute!

 Anyway, we had a great time.  Because it was all around hard to schedule, we didn't hand out the invitations until Thursday, and it was such a busy weekend around town that I wasn't sure we'd get anyone there.  BUT.  We have great friends.  Everyone came except one of Ben's friends. Phew for that!

Also, these are the cupcakes I made, more or less.

It was fun, and he sure loved it.  He kept exclaiming, "BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER!"


the run down, a.k.a. it's been a while

This picture of Lewis and his corn on the cob technique is kind of too awesome
 not to share - despite it's super poor quality.
 contents of this post copied and pasted from somewhere else.

 Madelin is in Middle School here, has had a rough and wonderful time, is making amazing progress, is working so so hard in so many ways, and astounds me, no exaggeration, many times a day. She is clawing her way through all of this despite her illness and the effects it has on her, and I know very few people as strong as she. Today she spoke in front of our entire ward in sacrament meeting. I don't know if you can picture what that means, but picture a girl so dedicated to fulfilling a commitment that she plows though incredible anxiety just to bear witness to how she's seen other 'Go to the Rescue' of those in need. She's also a full-fledged YW now, received her temple recommend, and has some amazing fans in the form of our Bishopric, who just rave about her depth of understanding and faith. My mom heart is full.

Sam has had a rough school year so far. He's excelling socially, and finds it a revelation. The other day he said to me, "I always knew I liked people a lot, but now I know people like me a lot, too!" Oh, sweet boy. He works really hard to do his best academically, and has a rough teacher. We're working on switching him out of that classroom (hopefully tomorrow). He's playing soccer (and I'm his coach!!) and has really taken off in his abilities and confidence on the field. I can't tell you how much I love raising these athletically awesome kids! He has 2 close friends, S. and N., and the three of them spend all their spare time together, and are loving their growing freedoms. I hope they get to be friends for life. They are a great, solid trio.

 Ben is doing well. He adores his teacher (as do I) and is taking off in his abilities. He's struggled in some ways academically, but everything seems to suddenly be gelling. I love watching that happen! More importantly, he's lit up about it all. He loves reading, he loves writing, he loves math, he loves that he gets to go be a Kindergarten helper for a short time every day. His imagination still reigns supreme. It has no bounds. He is just pure delight, and I wish every parent had a Ben. He's also an occasional handful, you no doubt know. He's been feeling small recently, and is going through a bit of a fragile phase. He doesn't have friends at school right now, which is very strange for him, since he is usually confident and gregarious. I know he'll work through it, but it's hard to see him feel lonely. He's playing soccer, too, and is loving it. He has the most fun coach, a local teen who just adores these kids.

 James is super, but I'm sure you know that. He is smart and good and responsible and has just enough rebelliousness and all to keep us on our toes. He's still an extreme night owl, and has a really hard time winding down every night despite our early start in the AM. Like I always say, he's the most responsible Richins in our home, and that's only a slight exaggeration. Every day he packs his backpack for school, plants himself at the table, and reminds me he needs to homeschool. We just do a few fun things, and he loves it. He brings that same backpack to church so he can be a missionary. It's hilarious. He has a fan club of older girls and women who swoon when he walks by and giggle at every adorable thing he says. He kind of eats it up.

 Lewis. Oh, Lewis. Right now he's sitting on the table throwing cups off of it. So, I said, "Heeey." He looked over at me, covered his face, and started fake crying. It's so pathetic. What a character! And sometimes, what a grump! And everything he does, silly or sweet or funny, is so cooed over and awed at. Poor little baby. He's starting to talk more. He says, "I waaaan it!" more than anything. Also, MaMa, DaDa, waah (with a W at his lips)for water, Nana for banana, Uh-uh for no, and Uh-huh! for yes, and more. He often talks in a loud lion growl, and makes lots of funny noises. Also, he's a shy guy! He doesn't like people he doesn't know looking at him first. But, if he sees them first, and they are far enough away, he'll wave and yell 'Hewo!" I'm pleased to say he loves his fuzzy blanket and Mama cuddles (and nurses) more than anything. He's also more of a daddy's boy than any of our kids. He loves high fives, and knuckles, too.

 Me? I'm crazy busy, and for someone who loves a quiet and slow life, it's kind of a big change. I'm hoping things will slow down here in the next month, but who am I kidding? That probably won't really happen for another 2 decades! Oh well! Life is hard. I'm not going to lie. But I really wouldn't have it any other way. I am a better person for sharing my life, the highs and the lows, so completely and unreservedly, day in and day out, with my wonderful family.

I love it, pure and simple.


epic battle - early morning edition

Well, life is flying by.  Between school and homework and soccer and activities and all, I feel like I barely realize what day it is before the day has slipped through my fingers and another one is dawning.

To say this is a transition time for our family is a huge understatement.  Some parts of our days have gone more smoothly than anticipated.  Thank goodness for a working morning routine that gets us all ready and out the door before 7:30 am, all dressed, fed, scriptured and prayered.  It works.

(btw, while we are all here, this is what I made for them.  Slipped it in plastic sheet covers and pinned it to the wall all fancy like.)

James and Lewis and I have All The Time In The World, now that there are only two kids at home.  The adventures never end!  Things like grocery shopping, which seems so blissfully uneventful for some reason.

Also, I thought James was responsible before.  Well.

So.  The other night another family came over for dinner.  Mads invited them for her birthday, and between dinner and dessert, we tried to keep the kids from tearing the house apart by playing a game of animal charades.  Everyone was involved, of all 3 generations present, and everyone was loving it.  Ben ran off to the bathroom to attend to some, ahem, serious business, and I hear him yelling, over and over.  I went to him to ask him what he needed, and he replied, "Nuffin'!  I'm just shouting my guesses!"  So funny, picturing him in there on the pot, yelling out what he imagined someone was acting out in the other room.  I love that boy!  Oh, and later, during the same game, Tyler walked in the room and saw him upside down under the keyboard of the piano, his head on the floor and his feet and hands on the bottom side of the keyboard.  Can you picture it?  He was being a bat!  Gaaah!  The cuteness!

Welp, that's it for now!


tomorrow is a new day

I started to love Emerson when I was in highschool.  I had a notebook that I filled with my favorite thoughts, quotes, poems, and essays.  And Emerson (and Thoreau - gotta love those transcendental thinkers) filled up much of that notebook.  He put into words some of my life-long loves, and confirmed so strongly my faith in the divine origin of the individual - that we are all unique, that we all have beauty and power within us, that we all have talents and gift worth nurturing, that we are spiritual children of Heavenly Parents.

There is such sense and purpose in Emersons' words.  I feel that he and other similar thinkers paved the way, during that special Enlightenment period, for the world to accept and welcome the gospel of Jesus Christ back to the earth in it's entirety - for the gospel to be restored.  He was so close, so right in so many ways, that he was almost prophetic.

After a day like yesterday, I was comforted to read this <<< quote.  (thank goodness for pinterest and inspiration boards and pretty lettering and all that mush.)  Today is a new day.  And I will not be tied down by yesterday, by it's chaos and worries and failures.  I will build a great day out of these hours that lay ahead.  I will be better, and do better.

And that thinking?  The opportunity to move on and change and learn and grow?  It's all available to me, to you, because of the Atonement.  It's a gift freely given, that brings me great joy, and heals my sorrows, if I let it.  I am so grateful.

So, enough with yesterday's nonsense.  It is past, it is gone.  Today is beautiful if I let it be, and will surely bring with it plenty of new nonsense.


first week of school

I'm not sure what it is about little boys and frog smiles, but they are adorable and I love them.

So.  Phew.  We've almost survived our first week of the new school year.

It's been...intense.  So much so that I've landed myself with a super, full-on, laid out flat sickness.  Which, as you might guess, is only helping ease the business.  Right?  Wrong.

 Monday, when everyone came home, only 1/3 of the kids had a good day.  I thought for sure we were in for some rough things, but fortunately day was better.  Now the kids are working on adjusting and settling in, instead of just being kind of in shock.  We've changed Madelin's class schedule once, and may do it again this next week to have her where she needs to be.  Sam is getting used to a new teacher, and his teacher is getting used to a new town and school, but so far it's going well.  Ben loves his teacher, but is having some growing pains getting used to the big expectations that first graders have.

Their days start around 6, they are at school between 7:15 and 7:30, and they aren't done and home until 4 or so.  And then there's homework and soccer practice and dinner and family time?  Except, Mads is a big 6th grader now, so she's often doing homework straight until she goes to bed, somewhere between 8 and 9, when I tell her to stop and sleep, and that we'll try again tomorrow.  And, in case you noticed, that is pretty much why there still isn't a picture of her taken after 4 days of school.  Oh well!

I have to say, I feel like the biggest failure of a mom every single day.  Each of my kids has something big that they are struggling with right now.  And how can I possibly give them each the extra help they need, to the degree they need it?  I'm doing something, which is better than nothing, but still, it doesn't seem like enough.  And, I totally know parents let their kids just be responsible for themselves and all that, but each of these kids really NEED this help.

Which, really, if I focus on it much, makes me feel worse, because somehow with all my idealism and dedication and high hopes, I've botched some big things.  But, let's just not talk about it.

Also, I miss those stinkin' kiddos.  I don't love the rush and race and fast pace of our mornings and evenings.  It'll ease up in 6 weeks with the end of soccer season.  And by the way, did I mention that I'm coaching this year?  I'm coaching.  Weird.  We have our second practice today, but our first was on Tuesday, and it was so fun!!  I loved it.  We had fun!  Kids are awesome.  And I love soccer.  Also, I love AYSO.  I think it's run pretty stinkin' well, and stands for some great things.

So, I guess this is the end of my kind of feverish monologue.  My heart is racing just sitting here, so I better go lie down, because whether I'm ready or not, the afternoon and it's many demands will come!


rainy day

We've had a lot of rainy days recently.  The clouds keep building, the lightning crashes, and the water pours down, soaking everything around.  Our area is bright green, our yard is lush, our garden grows right in front of our eyes.

The kids love to stick their heads and hands in the gutter water.  They love to let it all soak into them, until the booms shake and rattle them, and they come running inside, excited and scared.

When I was growing up, I only wanted a few things in a home.  I desperately wanted green grass and trees, a two or more story house, and to live in a neighborhood.  We've got two out of three here, and I think all the time how grateful I am for it all.

I love our home!


rodeo, July 2013

We've been having monthly rodeos ever since this one way back in April.  If you remember, Madelin is now horseback riding at a friends' families house.  She's participating in this great therapy the dad offers, called Courageous Rides.  And, straight truth, I don't think anything has been as great for her in the last few years as getting to ride that spunky horse up there.  Those two are well suited for each other, and Madelin loves every single minute she gets by her side and on her back.

As you can see, she's come pretty far from just starting to use reigns and sometimes riding around solo.  She has been fearless from the beginning, doesn't have a moments' pause, and loves going fast, as fast as possible, more than anything.

Like I said, Geisha is a spunky girl.  She likes to get away with what ever she can, but Madelin is learning to stay on top of it all and keep her in line.  Here she is getting Geisha's attention.  See that left ear up there, turning back to listen to Mads?  That's great.

The other boys get to ride on these special rodeo days, and they love it, too.  James has gotten more and more brave, Sam loves it, but Ben cannot get enough.  He hops on a horse every chance he gets.  Here, the sweet little owner of this pony is 'side-walking' next to Ben to help him out.  So responsible!

Here, Geisha kept walking right up to me, with Lewis on my lap, and Madelin wanted her to stop.  So, she got her attention and backed her right up - not a simple move!  Look at that concentration.

Madelin has so much to learn, but also she's learned so much.  Also, can I sound like a proud mom for a second  and say how fun it is that she's kind of a natural at all this?  I love watching her ride!  I love the hard work, and discipline and patience it requires.  And I love the thrill and confidence it gives her.

Here are a few more photos, below, in case you are interested.  I left out all the photos with kids that aren't my own.